PISA assesses the extent to which 15-year-old students have acquired key knowledge and skills that are essential for full participation in modern societies. The results should be used as one measure of a country's overall evaluation of its education system and not serve as a league table. Yet information and greater understanding are there if we care to look and discuss the results honestly.
Whatever differences we may read in the PISA results that were released today, here's a sampling of quotes from the U.S. report (PDF) from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to put things in perspective. Each could be a blog post on their own and each serves up some interesting pieces of information.
New one-page profiles of the 2013 National Blue Ribbon schools highlight each school's mission, demographics, culture, and goals.
The 286 schools—210 elementary schools, 22 middle schools, 53 high schools, and one K–12 school—represent promising ideas in different settings, from rural areas to major cities. Schools were recognized in one of two categories: Exemplary High Performing, based on overall academic excellence, or Exemplary Improving, grounded in improving student achievement. Now in its 31st year, the program celebrates schools that serve as admirable examples of the United States' vision and commitment to education.
If the state of North Carolina decides to pull the plug on the Common Core State Standards, it will be a slap in the face to the teachers and administrators who have spent countless hours (most on their own time without reimbursement) preparing to implement the Common Core State Standards to maximize learning for 1.5 million students.
On June 2, 2010, the North Carolina State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) which were implemented during the 2012–13 school year. The CCSS represent K–12 learning expectations in English language arts and mathematics. They reflect the knowledge and skills students need to be college and career ready by the end of high school. Over the past few months, elected officials across the United States are beginning to question the CCSS. On June 4, 2013, North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest posted a YouTube video outlining his concerns.
While standing in the car rider line at an elementary school, I was approached by a classroom teacher. She asked, "Are we going to align our curriculum, instruction, and assessments to the Common Core State Standards next year?" I replied, "yes." Then I said, "The Common Core is not going away." The teacher replied, "The Lieutenant Governor is discussing eliminating the Common Core." I replied, "Which Lieutenant Governor?" The teacher said, "The North Carolina Lieutenant Governor, Dan Forest."
What does "education" mean for our youngest learners? The first years of school are as important for an educated population as any other period, perhaps more. Additionally, research shows that implementation of high-quality preschool programs can be beneficial for the lifelong development of children in low-income families and that an upfront commitment to early education provides returns to society that are many times more valuable than the original investment.
With the current focus on standards and academic achievement, is learning and testing coming too early? Curriculum and assessment should be based on the best knowledge of theory and research about how children develop and learn, with attention given to individual children's needs and interests within a group and in relation to program goals. In this episode, we discuss the importance of early childhood education and the specific social, cognitive, and emotional needs these learners have that are different from those of older learners. You'll hear from
Laura Bornfreund is a senior policy analyst for the New America Foundation's Early Education Initiative. Bornfreund examines early education (birth through grade 3) studies and policies and researches and writes original policy papers. She contributes to Early Ed Watch, the Early Education Initiative's blog, writing on a variety of education policy topics including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; federal education grant programs; teacher preparation, retention, and support; kindergarten; and early childhood assessment.
Walter McKenzie is a lifelong learner, teacher, leader, and connector. A director of Constituent Services for ASCD, McKenzie served 25 years in public education as a classroom teacher, instructional technology coordinator, director of technology, and assistant superintendent for information services. He is internationally known for his work on multiple intelligences and technology and has published various books and articles on the subject.
Jennifer Orr is a 1st-grade teacher at Annandale Terrace Elementary School in Fairfax County, Va. A National Board Certified Teacher in middle childhood, Orr has taught 4th, 5th, and 1st grades since 1998. In 2012 she received the International Society for Technology in Education's Kay L. Bitter Vision Award for being a K–2 educator bringing technology into the classroom effectively and with innovation. She is also an ASCD Emerging Leader and member of its 2013 class.
Wendy Ostroff is a cognitive psychology, child development, and metacognition expert and author of the 2012 ASCD book, Understanding How Young Children Learn: Bringing the Science of Child Development to the Classroom. Ostroff has been developing curricula on children’s learning for the past 15 years in the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies at Sonoma State University; in the Department of Education and Child Study at Smith College; and, most recently, as associate professor in the program for the Advancement of Learning at Curry College.
If early childhood is where we begin to build skills and behaviors such as persistence, empathy, collaboration, and problem solving, are we teaching in developmentally appropriate ways?
ASCD continually seeks to provide solutions to the challenges that face educators of all levels. Recently the ASCD SmartBrief ED Pulse poll addressed where quality early education falls within U.S. priorities and goals.
The U.S. government shut down this morning because Congress was unable to pass a bill to fund federal programs as the new fiscal year begins. This week's Capitol Connection cuts through the politics and brinkmanship to outline what a shutdown means for the nation's students, educators, and schools.
Educators may bear the brunt of school performance criticisms, but the public's opinion of educators is on the rise, with the majority of Americans believing that educators teach students well and keep them safe. More than 70 percent of Americans have trust and confidence in the men and women who teach in public schools, according to the 45th annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll (PDF) on the public's attitude toward public schools. Eighty-eight percent of parents feel their children are safe at school—the highest figure ever recorded by the poll—compared to the 66 percent who believe their children are safe playing in their neighborhood.
Don't let your senators go on vacation! Take time during the August recess to ask your senators to become cosponsors of S.1063, the Effective Teaching and Leading Act. This important bill supports induction and mentoring programs and enhances ongoing professional development for teachers and school leaders.
The more cosponsors and support the bill has, the more likely it is to be added to the Senate's Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization bill when it’s considered on the Senate floor.
At the recent ASCD Leader to Leader (L2L) conference, attendees had a series of passionate unconference conversations. Several groups refined their thoughts into a series of presentations to share with other attendees in an "idea marketplace." During the idea marketplace, unconference groups presented for four rounds of 10-minute sessions, giving their peers the opportunity to learn from several groups in one session.
There has been a dramatic shift in young peoples' thinking about the value of institutions. For example, they are more comfortable with changing jobs; the research states that newcomers to the job market say they expect to change jobs about every three years. This is a drastic change in thinking from my generation. We believed that we would have one or two jobs in our lifetime and with the same company or school. We believed this idea represented stability and we found comfort in having our benefits and retirement secure.
At the L2L conference we discussed other shifts in thinking about the value of the institution of education. These points were made: